Chinese forests now just chopstick factories in waiting
China’s been dealing with a lot of pressure lately: dirty air, a river full of dead pigs, new pledges to go green … To cope, there’s apparently been an uptick in stress-eating. The country is now producing 80 billion pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks a year, nearly 60 pairs for each person in the country, according to Bai Guangxin, chair of Jilin Forestry Industry Group. That’s way up from the estimated 57 billion pairs produced annually between 2004 and 2009. At this rate, China is destroying nearly 1.5 percent of its forests each year just in the name of chopsticks.
The consequences of China’s chopstick production — deforestation, for one — have prompted action from some environmental groups. …
Bai pointed out during [a] meeting Friday that the Chinese government has also begun taking action by introducing policies limiting manufacturing of disposable chopsticks.
Government actions range from a 5-percent tax levied in 2006 on disposable chopsticks, to a 2010 warning of potential government regulations for companies that fail to strictly supervise disposable chopstick production. …
“We should change our consumption habits and encourage people to carry their own tableware,” Bai recommended on Friday.
If the country’s still planning on increasing its forest cover by nearly 21 percent by 2020, it should heed Bai’s advice. (You’d think as the head of a timber company he might be able to do something about this himself, but there’s the whole state-run thing to contend with.)
Maybe a little DIY could help. My brother, a sushi fanatic, carries his own steel travel chopsticks in a pouch around his neck. Similar sticks with a travel case cost a few bucks at your local Asian market. Bonus: no figurative or literal splinters in your mouth from unethical eating instruments.
Susie Cagle writes and draws news for Grist. She also writes and draws tweets for
Also in Grist